The biggest bane of my existence here in Tech Support World has got to be the noisy fans. If you’ve worked around a lot of computers, you know the ones. Usually it’s the power supply fan; a little speck of dust or grime has gotten inside the fan bearings, or the blades have gotten a little bit out of alignment. However it happens, the fans start buzzing. Some of them make a racket like the world is ending as soon as you turn them on, then shut up after a minute. Others start out silent and build up to it over the course of a workday. Some of them go at it all day long, others come and go in short bursts. Sometimes you can stick a pen in the grill in the back of the computer, and the blades will realign themselves—for a few days, at least. Other times it’s like a nest of hornets, and the more you poke the angrier it gets. And in all cases, the only solution is to remove a couple dozen screws from the power supply and replace the fan.
I hate it. I absolutely hate it. I cringe every time I hear those dreaded words: “My computer is making this funny noise…” The hate wells up inside of me and threatens to burst. It’s irrational, I know. It’s just a fan; they cost about three dollars and take four minutes to replace. But for some reason that’s one of most loathed tasks around here. Replacing a motherboard? No problem. Reinstalling Windows from scrach? A piece of cake. But when I walk down the hall and hear that buzzing fan, sitting there under the desk and taunting me, I want to put my foot through the box. Maybe I’ve brought it on myself. It seems to be a consequence of buying so many budget-conscious (read: cheap-ass) computer kits over the years. And in the big picture, replacing a fan every couple of years is nothing when you saved a couple hundred dollars on the computer. And the fans are the only parts that seem to go bad. Motherboards, hard drives, video cards, memory sticks, these things last for years and years. But the fans – they never make it. They ridicule me to this day, challenging my manhood and my fitness as a computer tech. “Oh, what’s the matter, you can’t even keep a little fan quiet? I guess somebody’s not quite cut out for the job, is he?”
Maybe it’s silly, and probably I should be glad that my network runs so smooth that I have time and energy to kvtech about fans. But I hate those little buggers. Some days I just want to rip them all out and turn the air conditioning down to 30 degrees.
This is the reason I bowed down at the altar of the MacCube when it came out. Sure, that was one of the sleekest computers I had ever seen, even if it did look like it should be dispensing Kleenex out the top. But there was one thing that drew me to it like no other computer before or since: no fans.